Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cover Up ...

After a minor delay we started work on the beer hall ceiling today. Without further ado, let's look at what happened.

First you have to make sure you get a straight line for the first row. Look Jerry, Ted (my favorite tool rental places), I got a laser level, why couldn't I borrow that from you?! ... ;-)

The first row is the toughest, but it looks pretty straight, thanks to the (are you listening Jerry and Ted) LASER LEVEL.

The second row is so much easier, and it is still considerably close to the ground, though being six feet up on a solid yet shaky scaffold can be upsetting to people with fear of height.

At the end of the day we got five rows installed.

Now kids, we also shot another movie today, but I have to scale it down first, because it is rather large, and I would quickly use up the available disk space for this blog. Stay tuned ...


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Woman Down ...

So you wonder where the fabulous pictures of our newly covered beer hall ceiling are. Wonder no more, they don't exist, yet.

Well, E! had caught a stomach virus and was down for two days, which means no ceiling work, as this is a two person job. But tomorrow, maybe.

I entertained myself with plumbing work, and other little things that have been bugging me for a while. Nothing noteworthy, just work.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gunk Haus On The Web ...

Actually Gunk Haus was off the web today. Our domain name registrar had issues, and thus didn't work for some time today.

But while I was at it, I googled "Gunk Haus" just for the fun of it. It turns out Gunk Haus is Number One!!! Alright, so we share the title, and yes it is really just about the most interesting new business name, of that week, which seems to be a regular feature in the Westchester County Business Journal.

WCBJ meet me at camera #3 (I am watching way too much The Daily Show). First of all, "I'll have the salad" in German translates to "Ich hätte gerne den Salat". For Christ sakes, punch it into Google and have it translated. Now what makes you think that we only have A Salad?! Yes, there will be plenty of meat on the menu, and sausages on end, but we also recognize that there are people out there who don't like to eat meat, and they should feel just as welcome, so there will be more than just one salad, and plenty of other vegetarian and vegan dishes.

On to the picture section. I know, some of you are just skimming my blog for the pictures, and that is alright. I try to post lots of pictures, but sometimes I feel stupid posting a picture of something that you can look at in your own bathroom, kitchen, or any other place. Anyhow, here's the water works construction site, early this morning ...

... and around lunch today.

I poured some concrete for the water pressure tank. The white board will be used to adhere the UV water treatment system, and various other thingies. I'm calling Jeff (our plumber) tomorrow, to get on his calendar.

Tomorrow, we will start on the beer hall ceiling. Now that is exciting!


Friday, December 26, 2008

Water Works ...

I hope you all had a nice Christmas, we certainly did.

But today it was back to work. E! is still busy staining the ship lap for the beer hall. I started preparing the basement for the overhaul of our water treatment system. Here is how it looks like today:

From right to left you see the pressure tank, the chlorination tank, and the water softener. The last two we will get rid off, and replace with a UV water treatment system. The wall on the left hand side is where all that will go.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Piece Meal ...

E! was busy staining the ship lap for the ceiling. It would be too tough to stain them once they're installed.

Here are the fruits of labor.

Meanwhile, I was using up the remaining drywall sheets and started walling up the second bathroom. But I will now focus in the basement for a few days, because I need to prepare for the installation of the UV water treatment system. Our plumber Jeff was over yesterday, and we talked about how to arrange the water treatment and distribution system. Within the next two weeks we should get started on that, then it's on to plumbing in the dish station, and installing the grease trap.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow White And The Seven Radiators ...

It has been snowing since Friday. It will stop to snow and start to rain on Wednesday, just in time for Christmas, what else is new.

All the radiators are installed in the beer hall, and they make it toasty warm.

E! started staining the wood for the beer hall ceiling, while I installed more drywall. Work as usual.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Whiteout ...

We were in the Big Apple the last two days, though we had to cut it short. In case you missed it, we got about eight inches of snow today. Driving up from New York was ok when we left around noon. It got bad before and after the Tappan-Zee-Bridge, but then it cleared up in traffic, not in snow. Unfortunately that's when my windshield wipers started to collect snow and I saw things all blurry. Towards the end I had to stop ever few miles to clean the wipers, because I could barely see the lane in front of me. It took us five and a half hours for 100 miles.

Now to all you kids, make sure you check your windshield wipers before the next snow storm hits, because it isn't fun, and it is outright dangerous (Mom, Dad, you didn't read that I actually did all that, I'm fine).

Anyhow, we had a good time in the city (thanks Mark for hosting us), spending most of the time in the Bowery, that's where all the kitchen supply stores are, looking at heavy and not so heavy kitchen equipment. We went to the lighting district looking - surprise - at lighting. And of course we went out to eat and drink to places we find interesting from either a food, drink, or business perspective, because they have a similar concept as to what we are aiming for, or to get ideas about decor, etc.

When we got home today there was a big pile of snow in front of our door, which turned out to contain the remaining three radiators for the beer hall. You know what that means ... there shall be (more) heat ... :-)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holz Vor Der Hütte ...

We got the wood for the beer hall ceiling delivered today, 1x12 ship lap.

First order of business, carrying it into the house, roughly 150 pieces. Who needs a gym when you fix up a house.

Also, Lou stopped by. He's a semi-retired structural engineer, and he's doing the engineering for removing the steel beam in the bar, along with fixing the broken beam in the bar. Things are moving forward ...


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Feel The Excitement ...

We woke up this morning to find out that we didn't have any coffee, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!! We take any excuse, ANY, to not have to work, so we went for breakfast. None of this is important, but we wanted to head out this morning anyway, so this was just a detour.

We went to a lumber yard, because we wanted to look at some ... wait for it ... lumber. As I had mentioned we are close to covering up the ceiling in the beer hall, and today we ordered the material. We should receive it by tomorrow.

So we hung some more drywall, this time in the bathroom. Things are starting to shape up.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Local Warming ...

Today had to be a better day. Granted, yesterday wasn't totally bad, but it could have been better. Still, I needed some success.

I called the radiator manufacturer today. I had a good chat with the representative. He assured me, that they sell thousands of radiators, and he had never heard of this problem. He offered to send me new connector pieces for the ones I gummed up so far. And he offered advice on using teflon tape, seven to eight wraps around the threading should do, I only used three or so.

The root of the problem most likely lies in the fact that the threading of the connector pieces to the radiator is BSP (British standard pipe), as opposed to NPT (national pipe thread). The BSP thread in this case is a straight thread, whereas the NPT thread is tapered. You can read on Wikipedia what that means.

Regardless, I wrapped, and wrapped, and wrapped (repeat eight times) the teflon tape around the connector piece, and screwed it in nicely. Et voilà, it worked, and again, and again, and again. Quickly hook up the thermostat and fire up the boiler. Well, it was almost too warm to use heat today, a whopping 62°F, but this will change, and we'll be ready.

Time to bring out the champagne, no wait, that just froze to death in the fridge ... ;-)


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Always Something ...

Where do I begin? The day didn't start so bad, I finished the dry walling I had started yesterday, it looks great. On then to my favorite task for the last few days, heat in the beer hall. I had applied the nasty sticky stuff the day before, gave it some time to cure so that it be ready for action today.

I open the flood gates, i.e. valves, to the radiators, and ... four out of eight valves (two of which on one radiator) hold steady to the pressure (thanks for your comment, Kathleen, but I tried the locktite that came with the radiators, I tried teflon tape, and I tried my nasty sticky stuff). Not so good, but not too bad. At least I get to test the rest of the heat piping for the beer hall.

As I still have to install the thermostat, I simply short the wires (24V DC is not a biggy, but you knew that) to turn on the circulation pump ... nothing. Again ... nothing, again. I get out my trusty volt meter ... power all the way to the circulation pump. No pumping, though. I don't even sigh anymore, I gave that up long time ago.

Replacing the circulation pump can invite all sorts of disasters. It is normally shielded on both sides by a valve for easy replacement. That's a great idea, if those two valves work, but you know how this can turn out. Well, it turns out I got lucky, and both valves still work like a champ, and I am talking Olympic gold medal champ.

I get the new pump, and some wire with it, as the old one looked a little untrustworthy (why do I have these nightmares about the place burning down). So here is the culprit, to be seen on the left:

And now it's gone, while my favorite pipe holder holds the pipe:

And now the new one is in, easy-peasy:

It worked like a champ, and it circulated the heat through the one radiator, which didn't have any problems with leakage. No wait, what's that wet spot there?

I know I make mistakes sometimes, but the leaking valve problem I do not claim responsibility for anymore. I have to call the manufacturer tomorrow, because the threading on those valves is totally off.

Anyhow, the day ends, time to decompress, and time for a cold beer, which we keep in a fridge that came with the property (and it actually says on it: cold beer). The beer in there was cold, alright. In fact, it was frozen stiff, most bottles shattered. Clearly the fridge thermostat must have left the room within the last two days, and caused the fridge to become a freezer.

And they asked me why I drink ... ;-)

Now the good news: Laziness is bliss! The other day we went beer shopping, but I was too lazy to put it in the fridge. You connect the dots ...


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Drip, Drip, Drip ...

I am usually a patient person, but sometimes I get anxious, like getting the heat going in the beer hall. Well, I tried the sticky sealant today, and I am sure it will work, I just couldn't wait and flooded the radiators too early. Subsequently they were still dripping, only a little bit though. So I'll bide my time, let the sealant cure, and get back to it tomorrow.

In the meantime, and for our sheer pleasure and entertainment (because that's what this is all about) we hung some more drywall today:

Tomorrow, after the heat is going (cross your eyes, fingers, legs), we may tackle the ADA bathroom (behind the Lowe's house wrap in the picture above). On Monday we'll start calling around for the wood for the ceiling. Now that is exciting!


Friday, December 12, 2008

D-Day ...

If you ever wondered what the D in D-Day stands for, it's disappointment, downer, disillusionment. I have actually gotten used to the fact that things never work the way I envision them, and I am almost diappointed if they do.

I worked on the finishing touches of the radiators in the beer hall today, screw in the valves and vents, hooked them up to the PEX tubes, and checked all the connections, twice.

It all looked good, so I opened the floor gates of the heating system, and filled the radiators with water. Drip, drip, drip. Everything was fine, except for the valve connections at the radiators. The manufacturer had sent a sealing paste along with the valves, which I applied as directed, but it didn't work as indicated, clearly it wasn't, as all the valves were dripping at the same spot. But I somewhat suspect that the threading may be too loose, because I used the sealing paste at another spot, which was fine.

No despair, I have some really nastily sticking sealant, which I'll try tomorrow, and I will be sure to use lots of it. There shall be heat!!!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Long Day ... Again ...

Why does heating related work always end up in long working days? Well, it doesn't of course, but I wanted to get something done, so that I can crank up the heat in the beer hall tomorrow. I'm not done yet, but tomorrow it will happen, unless the sky falls down, or I fail to hear the alarm and sleep in ... ;-)

We had visitors today, a reporter from the New Paltz Times. Soon we will be famous, gracing page 17 of the local newspaper ... kidding. Of course we are grateful of the news showing interest in us, after all that's free advertising. My biggest fear is though, that by the time we open, people already have such high expectations, that we may not be able satisfy.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wait For It ...

I guess I can't let go, and I shouldn't. I serviced the oil burner this morning, and I was reminded why I like to pay people to do it for me, it's dirty work. I did as much as I could and knew, but there were certain tasks, which I didn't want to attempt today, because things can go wrong, and I have enough other things to do than having to deal with a non-working oil burner when it's cold outside. I have to call Matt again. Wait for it ...

Instead, I continued work on the beer hall heat. I am not finished yet, but hopefully by tomorrow, no later than Friday. Wait for it ...

With the assumption that I will get the beer hall heating done before the weekend, I ordered some more drywall, so that we have something to do this weekend. After the drywall is up, we can start on the beer hall ceiling cover. Wait for it ...


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Divorce Papers ...

I can't do it, I just can't. You really love somebody, and you get disappointed time and again. Yesterday at 11am he was supposed to come over again, but he never showed, never called. I'm sure something came up, but I don't care anymore.

I hate that. Matt is a great guy, he does great work, and he's incredibly polite, but he never shows, when he says he would. He doesn't call to tell me he won't show, because whatever happened. I am trying to support local and small business, but gosh, work with me, help me, too.

Tomorrow, I will service that oil burner myself. I would have done that long time ago, but it's easier to pay someone to do it.

Today, the burner stopped for some unknown reason, but most likely because it needed cleaning. Fortunately, I have become a semi-pro with oil burners, thanks to Matt. The rest can be found in the books. But let's face it, there are about four to five simple things, anyone with a left and a right thumb can do to tune up their oil burner.

What bugs me is that I have other work, which needs to be done, like hooking up the radiators in the beer hall, which I did some work on today (see picture below), but as Jeff Lebowski already said: The dude abides.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Proudly Presenting ...

I just wanted to share with you a picture of our new addition to Gunk Haus, it was too late yesterday to take one. Isn't it precious, for the price anyway:


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sitzfleisch ...

Sitzfleisch literally translates to sitting flesh, but it is a German expression for having patience. We sat a lot today, a little over six hours, straight! That's when we were up, more precisely, our item was up.

See, part of opening a restaurant is that you need a lot of things, some of which we buy at auction. So today we went to an auction. It started at 2pm. We actually went for an eight foot bench, which is almost too short, but for the right price we make anything work.

Well, it turned out that the bench wasn't so great, and someone already had left an absentee bid, but we did see a few other things that looked interesting, amongst them, a table with four chairs.

At roughly 1000 items up for auction it took until after 8pm until the table and chairs came up. By that time we were determined to make it ours. The auctioneer started at $50, but I signaled to E! to wait. Nobody bid, and after a little while the auctioneer dropped the starting price to $25. E!'s arm went up. Going once, going twice, gone ...

You could argue that spending six or seven hours waiting to get one item sounds like a lot of time, but time is something we have, and money is something we want to preserve until we open the restaurant. We have seen places spend too much money on trying to open up, and then don't have enough money left to run the restaurant.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Gunk Haus Underground ...

I went into the abyss today, the underbelly of Gunk Haus, in plain English: the crawl space. It carries its name with pride. I was installing some PEX tubing (the gray line in the pictures) for the beer hall radiators.

The crawl space isn't so bad. Granted, there are lots of spider webs, it's dirty, the ceiling is low, and it looks like whoever built the beer hall addition simply burried all their trash underneath. But heck, it's dry.

I will have to get back in there a few more times, as I'm not done yet running all the PEX tubing, some of which I don't even have yet. In addition, the drain pipes from the dish station will run through here. I am tempted to clean up a little down there, but then who cares.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Get Used To Disappointment ...

I'm sure you remember my recent foray into heat-related plumbing. One of the setbacks then was a hot water supply line, which kept on trickling even after the shutoff valve was closed.

Well, today was the day of reckoning. I am working on hooking up the radiators in the beer hall, and I need that supply line. Since may last hooray, I had plenty of time to think about how to stop the stupid line from trickling water, so that I can solder (löten) a PEX connector to it.

Normally I start these attacks early in the day, in case something goes wrong. But I hadn't prepared myself as last time, so this morning I was out on the street soldering a few pieces together, which would then be soldered to the supply line:

After lunch I was ready for battle, and I executed my plan with the precision of a surgeon: Shut off the water to the boiler, close all heating zone valves, drain some water from the boiler, solder the PEX connector to the supply line, and reverse the boiler shutoff.

The result was rather anticlimactic. It worked just the way I thought it might.

E! is the sweetest. Just before I started, she checked whether we have all the supplies, that make a good vodka martini (thanks for the olives, Mark, I didn't need them today). I love her.

Aside from all this Mike (the electrician) stopped by today. He finished up a little bit of work on the service panel, so that the inspector can look at it. Hopefully this happens soon, so that we can get light into the beer hall and the bar.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blast From The Past ...

A few weeks back our dear Shirley Anson, president of the Plattekill Historical Society, dropped off a picture, which I would like to share with you:

This is what Gunk Haus looked like roughly 100 years ago. It hasn't changed much, don't you think? It already was painted the way we restored it to. The kitchen and beer hall additions to the right are still missing, and there is a balcony on the left, which doesn't exist anymore, but you can see the main entrance and the little side entrance right next to it, which we have since closed off.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Last Sheet Standing, Er, Hanging ...

I used up the last sheet of blueboard we had today. Not that we're done, but I wanted to use up what we have to free up floor space in the beer hall. We'll get more soon, but for now we covered what we wanted to cover.

Just for the kicks I hung a radiator, so I get a feel for it. Eventually they will be covered by a banquette (fixed bench), but this won't happen before next year. Tomorrow I'll start running the tubing for the radiators, which will take a few days.

E! is still busy fixing and painting all the window sashes in the house, and it looks really great. It makes such a difference to the appearance of the house.

We got a call from Mike today, letting us know that we're on his books for this week, which means pretty soon we may get our new electrical service, and we will be able to turn on all those pretty new circuits Mike had installed over the summer. There shall be light! But that also means that we don't have any excuse anymore not to work past 4:30pm.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Merry Go Round ...

We had run out of duct tape today, so E! went and got some at Lowe's. She came back waving a coupon. I told you before, we live for this stuff.

It seems like Lowe's has this promotion again, where when you buy something your receipt contains a coupon for $10 off your next purchase of $50 or more.

So I put together a shopping list of the things we would get anyway, today, tomorrow, or maybe in a month. Then I headed for Lowe's bought stuff for a little over $50, got my new coupon, went right back in, bought more stuff for a little over $50. Well, you get the idea.

It sounds somewhat pathetic to go through this effort, and in the grand scheme of things the savings dwarf in comparison to the amount we invest into Gunk Haus, but it feels good, and with a project of this magnitude we take every little highlight we can get.

We did a little more drywalling today, and I hung one of the radiators, just to see how it feels. I think tomorrow we'll use up whatever drywall we have (we only bought enough sheets to do the outside wall of the beer hall, so I could hang the radiators), and then I'll start getting some heat into the beer hall.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Day After The Day After ...

More drywalling today. It's really starting to look more finished, which really helps with our motivation. It's nice to get a sense of the end of the tunnel, though I don't want to talk about seeing it yet.

We played with different stains and wood pieces today, to give us a sense as to how we would like the ceiling to look like. The one we like best so far is the one on the upper left in the picture below. The one in the upper right we'll most likely use to box out the big beams in the beer hall.


Friday, November 28, 2008

We Got The Blues ...

When you set out on an endeavor like ours, you have to make sure to reward yourself for all the hard work you did. Sometimes that reward can be more work. Sounds crazy?

Lately we have done a lot of little stuff, like caulking, small paint jobs, weather proofing, in other words nothing exciting, which is also why I haven't posted many pictures.

That nitty gritty stuff gets annoying at some point, especially when you look at all the big tasks that still lie ahead of us. So today we rewarded ourselves with hanging drywall in the beer hall:

Actually it is blue board (though it looks more gray than blue), which is intended for plastering. We had always wanted to have plaster on the walls instead of simply painting them, because it gives the walls more depth and a warmer look.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Price Is (Not) Right ...

Frugal as we are and out of necessity we constantly check the various online advertising and auction outlets, namely Craig's List and eBay, for equipment, material, and odds and ends.

Yesterday I saw an ad for 1000 square feet of salvaged red oak flooring for a whopping $500.00. This is exactly what we need, as half the beer hall still needs flooring. So we went there today to look at the material.

Well, he had already sold 400 sq ft, but we could have done with the remaining 600 sq ft. According to elementary level math 600 sq ft should have cost $300.00. Not in this case, the seller suddenly wanted $400.00. That is when we started struggling. The lot consisted of many shorter pieces, there were still lots of nails in the wood, and it had varying color finishes. We walked away from it, the seller quickly offered $350.00, but the ship had sailed.

We are frugal, and we look for deals like this, but we also try to avoid being pound foolish. While the cost may have been lower than buying new, we would have incurred additional cost for sanding, and spent a lot more time installing the floor.

Here at long last a picture of our beer hall ceiling sample. We envision a dark stained wood panelling:

Today was also the day we finally received our first shipment of radiators. There shall be heat!!! We also picked up a few sheets of blueboard (drywall for plastering) yesterday. So look forward to some visual changes in the beer hall soon.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Babylon ...

You could argue that our life is boring and monotonous, we get up in the morning, we have breakfast, we fix windows (well, E! is), and that's it. This at least is how our last few days have felt. Today didn't start out any different.

Our routine was interrupted twice. Our neighbor Larry stopped by, asking whether he could have some heavy equipment delivered to our parking lot instead of his gravel driveway. How could we say no, we lust for heavy equipment, and we miss AL.

The second visitor was somewhat surprising, it was a representative of the health department. This isn't unusual in the sense that we wouldn't expect the health department to show, but at the present stage of Gunk Haus we usually know they are coming, largely because we invite them.

This was different. It was a field officer who wanted to check up on the status of our place. The last (written) record shows the transfer of the former Hollywood Bar to some new owner (= us).

I wasn't there for the entire conversation, but when I joined the location of our grease trap was already questioned (remember the ditch I excavated for the grease trap), the layout of the dish station didn't seem up to snuff anymore, and in general we got a different vibe as before.

Here is the thing, shortly after we bought Gunk Haus, we went to the health department to have them come by and talk us through as to what they would like to see in a our restaurant, what was important to them.

Well, that didn't completely go as planned. We quickly learned that there seem to be different voices, telling you different things, and you have to figure out what is actually important and what is being said because it needs to be said.

We did manage to get the health department to visit us, and we did talk and we were told things. Today, we were told different things, that is after we bought a grease trap and dug a hole in the dish station.

My beef with it is not what the rules and regulations are, what I care about is that I know what they are, and not being told one thing on one day and another the next day. I am not trying to get away with something, but what I need is clarity.

Life can be frustrating, but I bet you already knew that.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Decisions, Decisions ...

We installed a sample of ceiling cover in the beer hall today (sorry, no pictures, I forgot to take them before it got dark). Early on we had decided to cover the ceiling with wood. It will give the room a warmer feel. After five minutes of installation, we looked at the sample and started weighing pros and cons of the particular sample, the type of ceiling cover in general, and, and, and.

One of the reasons why we do most of the work ourselves is, because we continuously change our mind, often mid-stream, about how to go about things. This is largely, because we are not professionals in the field of home improvement. Although we have a vision, we often lack the knowledge of available materials.

We can't afford hordes of highly paid professionals, and therefore, we improve the place through trial and error. In our defense, though, even the hordes of professionals will not help you make up your mind.

Our problem in this regard is, that we like to make Gunk Haus a great looking place, but we get stuck on so many details a customer most likely won't recognize. What we have been good at so far, however, is to compromise in the end, and recognize what is important and what isn't.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Motivates You? ...

It was a slow day today, and so was yesterday, and pretty much the whole last week. I blame largely the cold weather. For the last week we have been experiencing temperatures normal to January or February. That makes you want to cuddle up in bed and wait until Spring.

Well, we don't have that luxury. So what gets usout of bed in the morning?

The reasons are many, but one is essential, the support of the community. I wrote a post a while back regarding community support, but I want to reiterate this topic.

When we bought Gunk Haus we were told that Clintondale is a tight-knit community. What we weren't told is, that it is filled with nice people. How many of your neighbors brought you cookies when you moved to your home?

Every other person who drives by Gunk Haus honks, waves, gives us the thumbs-up, yells out of the window how fantastic it looks, or stops to introduce themselves.

Yesterday we went to the Clintondale Christian Friends' annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner (the church borders our property), where we met familiar and new faces. As often in these environments, as soon as we introduce ourselves, people get all enthusiastic and give us the verbal pat on the shoulder. More often, though, people already recongize us, because they drive by Gunk Haus all the time.

Why is this all important? It gives us confidence that we made the right choice.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Out Of Nine Is Bad ...

Jerry was right, cutting glass is for the birds. I was helping E! today, cutting glass for the window sashes she is overhauling. Six of the potentially nine panes I broke. Life can be frustrating.

Speaking of, yesterday we received a call from a supplier, where we had ordered the radiators for the beer hall. We were supposed to get them some time around now. Apparently there was a rush in orders just before mine, and now I will only get half the radiators and the other half maybe in January. Did I mention that it is cold right now?

E! and I talked future today, no, not about what to do with all the millions we don't have, but what project to tackle next. Granted, this is all subject to change, but we will most likely start dry walling the beer hall soon, and cover up the beer hall ceiling, and yes, install half the radiators.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Doors ...

E! had been busy stripping and painting the door from the beer hall to the future outdoor deck. Here is the result:

Today we installed it, and it looks faaaaantastic:

Currently the door goes nowhere, but I will add a stair on the outside, sometime.

Myself I was busy yesterday with a door as well. The door to the dish station needed a new outside trim and a new sill. Not too much fun in the frigid cold, that is keeping this area in its grip right now. Hopefully by Monday we get back into a more seasonal temperature range. Where is global warming when you need it ... :-(

We picked up our fryer today. Happy, happy, happy. As soon as we get the propane lines into the kitchen and the hood system finished there will be a lot of french fries in my future. Very happy ... :-)


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Can Go Miles And Miles ...

After I woke up around 5am this morning I started browsing the usual 'for sale' sections on Craig's List, when I came across an add for restaurant equipment. A diner was liquidating its kitchen equipment.

E! called them up and we decided to take a ride up to the other side of the Catskill Mountains to Grand Gorge, some 80 miles away. We took the truck, because if we would find something, we would take it right away. You have to be prepared, and be ready to pull the trigger.

We looked at all the equipment, but most wasn't suitable for us. We did pick up the floor model fryer though, which is something we had been looking for a while now. Well, we didn't actually pick up the fryer, as it was still in use. Thursday we'll go back up there and bring it home.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Windows 10.1, 10.2, 10.3 ...

More window work today. E! is busy fixing and painting all the window sashes. Some have broken glass, which need replacing. Frugal as we are, we had started collecting old windows over the last year, glass is expensive in case you didn't know.

So I got out the glass cutter and started scratching away. I had tried it before and wasn't very successful at it. And it wasn't any different this time around. On the first one I slipped and it broke in a curve, the second one chipped while I tried to brake it off.

So we called our personal Dr. Phil, knowledgeable at anything, or at least with an opinion about it (hey Jerry, thanks for all your help). Well, the man had something to say, and advise to spare, but nothing that would make my stupid glass cutter work. Frustration galore!

After a few minutes of research on the internet (what did we do before it), I figured I should try a different glass cutter. Off to the next hardware store, money on the counter, glass cutter in hand.

At home I run the glass cutter over a piece of scrap glass, it makes a nice consistent scratchy sound, the glass breakes clean at the scratch line. Eureka!!! That made my day, else there would have been a martini again ... ;-)


Sunday, November 16, 2008

I See You Got A Gun With You ...

At last we got to play with our new toy today. As I mentioned before, we want to stucco the cinder block wall around the kitchen and dish station. Unfortunately, it had been painted and would therefore not be very conducive to stuccoing, which is why we need to install metal lath, so that the stucco has something to hold on to.

The metal lath itself has to be affixed to the cinder block wall, which is where our new toy comes in: A Remington 479 Powder Actuated Tool, in other words a nail gun, the emphasis is on gun.

But why use words, when a movie says it all:

Like with any gun, it's good to do some target practice before you go out into the wild, and practice we needed as you can see:


Friday, November 14, 2008

Got Coupons? ...

Yes we do!!!

On occasion the slow, or non-existing, economy works for us. Companies are starved for cash, and they will try every trick in the book to get to it. One such trick is coupons. Lowe's had an interesting scheme this Spring, where whenever you went shopping there, the receipt would contain a coupon for $10 off your next purchase of $50 or more. That's when I started diving up our purchases into $50 dollar portions, in order to maximize our savings. Crazy, I know ... ;-)

Some of you may remember my email a few months back, asking whether you had any unused coupons for the two big home improvement chains (I don't want to name any names, like Lowe's or Home Depot ... d'oh!). Anyhow, I received a letter yesterday with just such a coupon in it (thank you, Selen), and went shopping today.

The savings due to the coupon were the equivalent of a very nice dinner. Now, some of you may think that this isn't a lot, and you might be right. In the grand scheme of things, you save most money by shopping around, but that is only half the story. But we do buy a lot of materials, and these things do add up.

I am certain I could get a lot of things cheaper by driving half an hour in any direction to the smaller building suppliers, and we do go the distance for certain materials. However, Lowe's is just two miles down the road from us, and we do buy a lot of little things, odds and ends, which you don't want to spend half a day on calling around, just to save 50 cents, total.

So, if you have coupons to spare, send them our way. They will be highly appreciated.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's Cold In There ...

It was one of these rainy days, when you don't feel like working. But that didn't matter, as I was booked this morning anyway. Tuesday night I had seen something on Craig's List, which we went to check out yesterday, and today we picked it up. Here you go:

Ok, so you don't share my excitement, possibly because you can't figure out what I'm so excited about. These panels on our trusty pick up truck (I meant to say rusty, but it has been good to us, for the most part) are for a walk-in cooler (Kühlraum). It is six by eight feet, which is smaller than we were looking for, but we got it for a good price, and it will get us through the door.

As it was raining most of the day, we bagged the idea of working and went to buy some metal lath for stuccoing (verputzen) the east side cinder block wall. At the building supply store we found a new toy for E!. You'll have to wait until Saturday though to see it in action. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Day After ...

In broad daylight the north side looks very nice. There's a little bit of touch up left, but don't you think it looks fantastic?

Today we had the dumpster emptied and moved to the parking lot side. Now the front of the house looks much cleaner already. We are going to stucco the cinder block wall, which will be our next project, before it gets really cold.


Monday, November 10, 2008

All The President's Ladders ...

It was another long work day. Now, some of you may not think that working until 6pm is all that late. Granted. Yet, if you're running up and down ladders illuminated only by a flash light, the day has been too long already.

Today we focused on the siding to the left of the beer hall chimney. We had decided to install new clap board. Things started out pretty well, and by noon we had the clap board up to the top of the window.

After that things slowed down, running up and down the ladders to take measures and install the clap board simply isn't that fast. Plus, on the upper parts were a few tricky cuts, which always take a lot of time.

Here's a shot from a little after 4pm:

It still took almost two more hours to fill that little triangle in the top, but eventually all was well:

All that's left there is to caulk and touch up paint.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Have You Got Any Snobbery ...

The other day, E! and I went for dinner to a swanky restaurant in New Paltz for E!'s special day (courtesy of E!'s sister and husband, thank you very much).

The food was yummy, but ever since we started on our restaurant voyage, I have sharpened my senses with respect to the on goings in a restaurant, the food, the ambiance, the staff. I owe this mostly to E!, she is the chef and business woman.

Anyhow, so we sat there and the appetizer rolls in, steak tartar, which was really yummy, except that it had fallen prey to the squeeze bottle. The squeeze bottle is something Anthony Bourdain had already complained about in his book Kitchen Confidential. It allows the cook to decorate a plate with all sorts of sauces, potentially creating a piece of visual art, the emphasis is on visual. The problem is though, that this visual dressing up can ruin the taste of the dish. The steak tartar was squeezed over in stripes with some sauce, making it impossible to get a piece without sauce.

It was also fascinating that they used thick brown paper as table cloth. Granted, it was neatly cut, but I didn't get why they put it on in the first place, because they took it off before dessert.

Eating out for us is a great exercise in how to run, or not to run our own restaurant. I hope we remember all that once we're open.


Friday, November 7, 2008

The Dark Side ...

At long last I started finishing the north side of the house. Slap some paint on the aluminum siding, install some house wrap, and get some clap board. Can you feel the excitement? Welcome to our life ... ;-)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Walking Out The Door ...

The biggest problem in the restaurant business are customers who walk out the door never to come back, because they were dissatisfied with food or service.

Today I was reminded of another problem restaurants face: Food walking out the door. However, I am not talking about doggy bags or carry out, I am talking about food that never made it in front of the customer.

Food theft by employees is not uncommon in restaurants, and it is certainly something we'll have to have an eye on. At the same time, you must be careful not to alienate your employees by a system that would make airport security look childish.

Gosh, it's not easy being a business owner, so stay in your cubicles, and be merry ... ;-)

More painting today. I know that sounds boring, but you'll have to suffer with us. E! will throw a big party on the day when she can finally pack away the paint brushes.

I, meanwhile, prepared a portion of the north side for the installation of new clapboard. After that, you guessed it, there will be more painting.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Slow Motion ...

Wasn't yesterday's puzzle fun? As you may have noticed, there were a million changes. Huh-What?!

I admit, the pictures were kinda smallish, but they showed that things are changing, albeit in small increments. E! did a lot of caulking on Monday, but that doesn't really show in the pictures.

Sometimes, however, things don't change, because we don't change them. Today was such a day. Neither of us got into gear, and the accomplishments were pitiful. Let's face it, we work seven days a week, we live and breathe this place, but sometimes it's just hard to motivate ourselves.

The biggest accomplishment today wasn't ours. Mike's gang was here today and installed the new electrical service panel, actually two service panels. Hopefully by next week we get them turned on, so we can light up the place (and actually make the meter change by 13.4kW in three days ;-).

Oh, and yes, I did replenish my martini fix in's, well I did find some vermouth in the basement, but I'm still lacking olives, at least the ones you would want to put in a martini (oil-cured Moroccan olives are not good for that purpose).


Monday, November 3, 2008

Today's Puzzler ...

Ok, today something really challenging, so I can find out if you are actually paying attention.

Below you find two find images of the house front, the first taken last Friday, and the second taken today. Now, how many differences do you see?

Please spare me with such lame answers like "Er, there is a ladder in the one picture.", or "The sky looks more blue on Friday." Also, don't just say "Well, more stuff has been painted."

I mean actual changes to the house, and where. Los geht's:

Have fun ...


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Windows 9.5 ...

Window work today. The window next to entrance needed a new outside trim, and a new sill. Nothing easier than that. Well, it is never as easy as it looks, and things never work the way they should.

After I reinstalled the window, I realized that I should have made a cut a little deeper. Too late! It just looks a little crooked. Hey, it ain't called the Gunk Haus for nothing.

E! was back at painting, which she is sooo getting tired of, but we're down to the nitty gritty parts, and maybe by the end of this week we'll kick the paint bucket to the curb.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Mighty Dragons ...

I am sure you've noticed how I often refer to E! as a mighty dragon, for working up on the aerial lift, despite the fact that she is afraid of heights. I have to admit, I have committed plagiarism. The original title goes to E!'s sister for sticking a needle into her stomach twice a day.

Now you may say neither of these things are scary or frightening. You may be right, but you have to give the girls credit for overcoming their fear. Don't make fun of people, who are afraid of things you'd do in a heartbeat. You have fears, too. Is that a spider on your neck?

Happy Halloween!


Shaken Or Stirred? ...

Shaken! But there are times when it is neither, especially when you long for a nice martini and find out that you have neither vermouth nor olives.

I needed a stiff drink yesterday. At around 10pm the heat to the second floor still wasn't restored, and it would be another half hour until that happened.

Yesterday I did the plumbing for the second floor heat, and as expected it didn't go as planned. I picked the most difficult spot first: soldering in a tight corner with the potential to burning down the house. Well, the house didn't burn down, but the pipe wasn't soldered together either, because there was too much water in the pipe, which prevents the pipe from heating up enough for soldering.

This first setback sent me into a trance like condition. I needed some success, so I proceeded to work on the other areas that required soldering. After that worked well, I returned my problem spot, and found a solution.

At 4pm I had completed the soldering on the second floor. Off to the basement, cut the return pipe and solder on the T-piece I had prepared on Monday. On to the supply pipe. I had been suspicious about it all day, because the drain valve had continued dripping all day. I was not to be disappointed. Turned out that the shutoff valve for the supply pipe shut off the water only mostly. Water kept trickling out of the supply pipe. No way I could solder anything to that pipe.

After a few moments of mental roller coaster riding I decided to leave the pipe dripping, put a bucket underneath, and simply use a different pipe for the hot water supply (we have five heating zones, of which two are disconnected right now, as I am waiting for the radiators to come in).

Said and done. Here I am connecting the PEX lines to the system:

Here a shot of the T-pieces in place:

At 8:30pm the system was ready for lift off. I open the valves to fill the pipes, when in a sudden water came gushing from the old return pipe. #@&$!!! I had completely forgotten to cap off the old return pipe.

After getting parts and more soldering, I was ready to give it another try. That was shortly before 10pm. Open the floodgates and whoosh, more water. Turned out that one of my T-pieces wasn't soldered together as well as one wishes. #@&$!!!

I knew the whole day, that I was going to reward myself with a nice martini, after I finished this project, but now I couldn't wait any longer. Poured, not shaken or stirred!

At 10:30pm, at long last, I opened the valves and the water stayed where it was supposed to stay, in the pipes.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Savage Love ...

I was having a Savage Love moment today, actually it was a whole day, and it kinda started yesterday, actually a few weeks back, more precisely last year, but I digress. For those of you who don't know Dan Savage's weekly column Savage Love, read it at

How do you tell your oil burner service man that you love him, that he has a warm space in your heart, that he's the only guy for you, and that you can't do without him?

After we bought the Gunk Haus, we wanted to have the oil burner serviced for the cold season. Our oil man, Larry, gave us the numbers of two guys he knew. That's how we got to know Matt. He showed up, he was very friendly, very thorough at what he did, and forthcoming. I loved him right from the beginning.

Then we had some trouble with the heat on the third floor in the midst of winter. Panic. Our first call was to Matt, but he didn't call back. So we left another message, underlining the urgency of our situation. He finally called back, and showed up the next day. He was there for a good hour bleeding our five zone heating system, at the cost of zero dollars. You just have to love this man.

Well, it seemed that the fill valve for the boiler was broken and needed replacement. Matt said: You can do that yourself. Here's what you do. And he started explaining what to do. Why wouldn't I love that man? He teaches me how to take care of the boiler, and it doesn't cost me a dime. It took me a day, but I did it.

Then a few months back we decided to do the air conditioning in the beer hall. Our first call was to Matt, he does heating and cooling. Our second and third call were to him as well, until he finally called back. He showed up, we went over the scope of work, and he promised to provide an estimate. It never came, but we were busy, and therefore didn't follow up on it either.

At the beginning of October we tried again. It took several calls, until we finally got a hold of him. He showed up, and we went over the scope of work, and he promised an estimate for two days later. It never came. So we started leaving voice mail after voice mail. No response.

Yesterday I started the oil burner for the cottage, because a new tenant was about to move in. All I got though was some smoke coming out of it. A case for Matt. The voice mail I left went unanswered.

Today I called another oil burner service guy, I needed the problem taken care of. In addition, E! called Matt again, and left another voice mail. At last, he called back and promised to be there in an hour. It was three hours until he showed up, but I was happy as can be. He fixed the problem, as usual, and explained everything to me. Cost: $20. Gosh, I love the man.

All day today I had these visions of what Dan Savage would have to say about my relationship to Matt, which I knew would be DTMFA (if you don't know what this means, google it, this is a PG-13 blog), and I was ready to do just that, but that was before he showed up. Right now, I am in heaven, and hope that Matt shows back up next week as promised to service the oil burner in the main house.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Watch What You Wish For ...

I bet you all know the feeling: The genie comes out of the bottle and grants you three wishes, when suddenly your stomach starts aching and you utter to yourself "I wish I didn't have those ten donuts before". The genie replies "Wish granted", whereupon you say "I wish I hadn't said that".

Well, you get the idea.

So, I wanted gutters on the house. As every good home owner knows, they keep the water away from the house, and that's a good thing. I got the gutters, and today I was out there in nasty weather, pulling leaves out of the gutters, lest they overflow. Actually they did, which is how I knew I had to clean them. Who would have thought, brand new gutters, and they're already clogged with leaves ... ;-)


Monday, October 27, 2008

Sold(i)er Up ...

I don't know, but ever since AL left us, things don't seem to be as exciting around here anymore. Quit whining, Dirk, soldier up.

I finished prepping for cutting the second floor heat tomorrow. I said cutting, not cutting off, mind. The problem with the second floor heat is that its supply pipes run exposed in the publicly accessible areas, which I don't like. I don't need a lawsuit, because someone burns himself on a 180°F (82°C) hot water pipe. So I ran some PEX tubing inside the walls, where they are out of sight, and out of touch.

To tie the PEX into the existing piping I had to solder up a few pieces of copper today, can you feel the excitement?

Whenever I do interrupt a working system, I like to do this first thing in the morning, and reserve the whole day, in case something goes wrong, and I need to get more parts. Thing is, it is supposed to get really cold on Wednesday, and I would like the heat to be working then.

While I'm at it, I rearranged the heat on the second floor to put most heat into the bedroom and the bathroom. If you don't know how baseboard radiant loops work, just believe me that I am making things better than they are today.

Now, if you think it is taking us a little too long already fixing this place up, well, here's a picture of our neighbors Lisa and Larry. Granted, they are building a house from scratch, which is actually somewhat easier than fixing up an existing place, but they are doing most of the work themselves, just like us. Nevertheless, they have been working on it longer already, and they will still be working on it when we are already open for business. So, don't complain about us taking our sweet time, it could be worse.